This book is a collection of seven essays – originally published in journals such as History and Theory, Modern Asian Studies, and South Asia – that examine different aspects of the Indian revolutionary movement. Four of the essays deal with specific problems, such as the role of individual actors and foreign influences in the development of Indian revolutionary terrorism. The last two examine the problem of “communalism” or politicized religious conflict in South Asia.
Nationalists of the Swadeshi period (1905-1912) enunciated the aim of complete independence and developed methods of resistance – non-violent and violent – that would be taken up by Gandhi, Bose and others after 1920. This volume of essays examines how some of the more important and problematic aspects of the Swadeshi movement such as the relationship between terrorism and non-violent resistance. It contains an analysis of the first group of Indian terrorists, and the relationship of Aurobindo Ghose to this group and to terrorism in general. Also examined here are foreign influences on Bengal terrorism and the nature of Bengali “religious nationalism.” The author also devotes himself to a theoretical study of communalism. The essays, based on original research in primary sources in English, Bengali, and French, are informed by but not limited to the approaches of the major schools of interpretation. This volume, written in a lucid style will be of interest to historians of modern India, students at the postgraduate level and general readers interested in modern India history and current affairs, both in India and abroad.
Heehs’s point of departure is a welcome one. Revolutionary terrorists need to be regarded more seriously than as a band of adventurers representing a bygone era. . . . In the final essay Heehs takes up the difference between mythic narratives (circulated in religious and communal circles) and historical truth. . . . The results are sometimes provocative.
P. K. Dutta, Biblio (New Delhi)
These case studies on the relationship between revolutionary terrorism and nationalism are a blend of intellectual and political history, and fill an important gap in South Asian scholarship. . . . The book makes an important contribution on an issue that has been largely sidelined in the debates surrounding the nature of nationalism/communalism in modern South Asia.
Vivek Bhandari, The Journal of Asian Studies
Heehs is attuned to developments in Indian history, the debates surrounding Subaltern Studies, and the politics of Indian historiography. . . . Heehs offers the useful suggestion that the debate on communalism has been dominated by “rival historical schools” and that far more insight would be gained if the historians were attentive to the work of cultural psychologists, anthropologists and other social scientists. But it is his observations on “history” and “myth” which alert us to one of Subaltern Studies’ greatest failings.
Vinay Lal, History and Theory
Well researched. . . . There is plenty of quality here to make it worth parting with your money.
Bob Currie, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics